DAVIE, FL – In the interest of tact and decorum, there’s just some sentiments that shouldn’t be said aloud. A police in chief in Davie is learning that the hard way after being suspended for allegedly implying that a deputy who passed away from COVID-19 had died due to participating in homosexual acts.
Davie FL Police Chief Dale Engle suspended for suggesting deputy’s COVID-19 death was linked to his being gay: report – https://t.co/fhga6rlz5V
— Todd Leek (@TBLeek) April 12, 2020
Chief Dale Engle from the DPD is in some hot water after trying to curtail his officer’s fears from the pandemic, using some seemingly derogatory methods.
Earlier in April, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett passed away due to complications associated with COVID-19. Then on April 7th, officer’s in the DPD were concerned about PPE accessibility and precautionary measures in light of the deputy recently passing.
In response to those concerns, Chief Engle tried to quell his officer’s fears by allegedly saying that is was Deputy Bennett’s homosexual lifestyle and endeavors that contributed to his demise of the virus.
If these allegations are true, the disgusting insinuation made by Chief Engle is not becoming of the badge he wears. He should be stripped of his rank for making such divisive comments that do not reflect the inclusive values of America's law enforcement.https://t.co/sDSjyBelzy
— National FOP (@GLFOP) April 12, 2020
In a sense, the chief was implying that AIDS was at play.
Those alleged comments did not take long to catch up with the chief, and he was subsequently suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Committee wrote a scathing letter detailing the alleged comments made by Chief Engle:
“Chief Engle allegedly yelled about a ‘backstory’ which proclaimed that Deputy Bennett contracted and died from the virus because he was a ‘homosexual who attended homosexual sexual events’.
He intimated that it was because of the homosexual lifestyle that Deputy Bennett first contracted a serious underlying disease which aggravated the Covid-19 virus and lead to his death.”
New: I obtained a copy of a letter the FL FOP sent accusing the police chief in Davie, FL of saying a cop died of COVID-19 because he was “homosexual.” Also obtained a vague apology letter from Chief Dale Engle but have not gotten a response from Engle or the city yet pic.twitter.com/vymxLDOEzw
— Jerry Iannelli (@jerryiannelli) April 12, 2020
Michael Tucker, from the FSLFOP, was befuddled that a police chief would imply something so insensitive after the deputy had recently passed away:
“Really utter shock that the chief would attempt to minimize the risk to everyone and especially first responders by trying to draw a link between what happened to Deputy Bennett tragically and his sexual orientation.”
Chief Engle responded to the accusations via an email he sent to his officer:
“I made comments concerning the death of BSO Deputy Bennett as reported in the local media. These comments were relative to COVID-19 and personal protective equipment.
My intent was to provide as much information to personnel as possible. If my comments were taken out of context, they were not intended to be derogatory.”
Now, even if Chief Engle said the comments in a manner that wasn’t meant to be disrespectful, he broke the number one rule of today. Never piss off the alphabet people.
#BREAKING – Davie Police Chief Dale Engle has been placed on administrative leave after he allegedly said BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett, who died due to complications from #COVID19, passed away in part because of his "homosexual lifestyle." https://t.co/neOQ7UTN52
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) April 12, 2020
The South Florida LGBTQ organization SAVE had managed to catch wind of the accusations levied against Chief Engle, and they are out for his job in the process. SAVE’s executive director, Orlando Gonzales, had the following to say about the alleged incident:
“Chief Engle chose to make the death of BSO Deputy Shannon Bennett an opportunity for him to fuel discrimination and stigma against LGBT people instead of focusing on addressing the health and safety of the police officers serving on the front-line of a public health crisis.”
The president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Tommy Reyes, personally knew Deputy Bennet. Needless to say, he was not thrilled about the chief’s alleged comments either:
“Shannon was my friend, a good man, and he loved his family, friends and his soon to be husband. Chief Engle’s comments are disrespectful not only to Shannon, but everyone who loved him.”
Even Reyes noted that due to Chief Engle’s alleged comments that he’d be summoning the wrath of the alphabet community:
“It was disrespectful to the entire LGBTQ community and his own officers. He should be ashamed of himself for his lack of professionalism and compassion for others.”
This is why people should think before they speak. Whether you like it or not, if it fell out of your mouth, then you own it from there.
[Editor’s note: Law Enforcement Today mourns the loss of Deputy Shannon Bennet because of who he was as a person and a deputy, not because of who he goes home to at night. Pro-gay, anti-gay, or indifferent, it’s important that we all recognize that this is a sad loss of life, especially for the law enforcement community.
We hope that this whole thing gets dealt with swiftly. Not to get Chief Engle out of the limelight, but so that Deputy Bennet can be honored as a brave and giving deputy, not used as a pawn in a political game. Our focus, as should the media’s be, is on Deputy Bennet.]
Here’s Law Enforcement Today’s previous reporting on Deputy Shannon Bennet:
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL– Deputy Shannon Bennett was 39 years old and a 12-year veteran with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Bennett was diagnosed on March 24, hospitalized three days later, and died the following week.
It is with a sad and heavy heart that we announce the passing of Deputy Shannon Bennett due to COVID-19.
Deputy Bennett served BSO for more than 12 years and was a fine deputy and individual. (1/2) #TeamBSO pic.twitter.com/ywl32BAiAz
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 4, 2020
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said:
“He was showing signs of recovery, and it turned for the worse last night.
This is a reminder, to not only this community, but us as first first responders that we’re on the front lines with this. We’re still willing to serve, but this is a new enemy that we can’t even see.”
The Sheriff continued:
“If you truly support your first responders, then reduce our opportunities for having citizen contact. Because for every time we have to answer a call because someone’s non-compliant, it puts our lives at risk.”
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